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Archive for July, 2018


1 John 4:16: We Ourselves Know

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

And we ourselves know and believe the love which God has for us. God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them. (GNT)

If only we might believe these words as we move along the route of our global and personal pilgrimage.

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. (NRSV)

If only we might take up the words of hope the disciples of Christ share with us.

Also we have come to know and trust the love that God has for us. God is love; and those who remain in this love remain united with God, and God remains united with them. (CJB)

If only we might show compassion for our enemies and pray for the Spirit’s healing and consolation.

Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God. (MSG)

If only we might be Christ in the world, restoration for the marginalized, and steadfastness with all who yearn for peace.


When we compare varying translations of these words, we come to know for ourselves the promise of Christ, the hope of the Spirit, and the wisdom of God.

Image from: https://areasonablefaithdotme/files.wordpress.com/2015/09/god-is-love.jpg

 

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Psalm 130: Fullness of Redemption

Monday, July 30, 2018

Psalm 130 also carries the name A Prayer for Help, a song we might want to sing today. National, international, and local events stir us to look to the LORD for help when we believe that no aide arrives in dark days.

From the depths of my despair, I call to you, Lord.
Hear my cry, O Lord;
    listen to my call for help!

In matters large and small, we must go to God first when we find ourselves up against walls that are too high, too thick, too solid to conquer. There is no power on heaven or earth that overcomes the deceit, fraud and malevolence the world experiences.

If you kept a record of our sins,
    who could escape being condemned?
But you forgive us,
    so that we should stand in awe of you.

As we look to condemn our enemies, we must do as our brother Jesus who asks. We must pray for those who harm us as quickly as we pray for those we love. There is no other light that pierces the darkness overtaking us.

I wait eagerly for the Lord‘s help,
    and in his word I trust.
I wait for the Lord
    more eagerly than sentries wait for the dawn—
    than sentries wait for the dawn.

When love betrays us, when corruption stalks us, when comfort vanishes and life proves too difficult, we seek comfort, wisdom, and healing from the Spirit. There is no other source of goodness that will overcome the evil we experience.

Israel, trust in the Lord,
    because his love is constant
    and he is always willing to save.
He will save his people Israel
    from all their sins.

When there is no exit, when there is no hope, when there is no compassion . . . we find faith in Christ, hope in the LORD, and mercy in the Spirit.

God says: I know the emptiness you feel when you read the events that surround you. And I know the safety you experience when you recognize my presence in a world that confuses you. Rely on your relationship with me. Spend time with me. Abide in me. I know that too often all seems lost but when you bring me your worries and anxieties, you bring them to the one person who sees, hears and knows all.

When we spend time with these verses, we find the energy to make the small changes open to each day. We find the solace and peace to lie down in peace each night. We find the compassion to act in justice each moment of our lives. We find mercy that rewards us with fullness in redemption.


When we compare the GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION of this psalm with other translations, we discover a newness that will carry us forward in confident expectation of God’s providence.

Image from: http://2uomaha.org/2014/from-the-minister/redemption

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Proverbs 2:9-15: Knowing What to Do

Sunday, July 29, 2018

If you listen to me, you will know what is right, just, and fair. You will know what you should do.

This advice brings us comfort.

You will become wise, and your knowledge will give you pleasure. Your insight and understanding will protect you and prevent you from doing the wrong thing.

These words are ones we want to hear.

They will keep you away from people who stir up trouble by what they say—those who have abandoned a righteous life to live in the darkness of sin, those who find pleasure in doing wrong and who enjoy senseless evil, unreliable people who cannot be trusted.

In out tumultuous world, change permeates every facet of life. We look for places to stand when familiar foundations crumble. We ask for assurance. We know that we must put aside fear and replace it with trust in the Lord.

God says: Although the world seems a dangerous place, you must trust that I hold each of you in my hands. My servant Paul tells the Ephesians – and he tells you – that I chose you to be holy, with every spiritual blessing, before the foundation of the world. My son Jesus tells you that you ought not let your hearts be troubled. I tell you that despite the troubles surrounding you, my mercy and justice will lift you above the battles of your days and the uncertainties of your nights. Remain in me as I remain in you so that my peace and love will permeate your every fiber to bring you even closer to me.

When we move against injustice, we must allow God to guide us. When we speak up about hatred, we must allow Christ to show us the way. When we are betrayed by people and institutions we once thought just, we must allow the Spirit to heal and bless. And this allowing will show us clearly what we are to do.


Read Paul’s message in Ephesians 1:3-14. In John 14:1, Jesus calms our fears.

When we compare varying translations of these words, the light if understanding will lead us to Christ’s serenity. 

Click on the image to read an NPR Science opinion piece about how confusion con sometimes be helpful. Or visit: https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2015/12/14/459651340/sometimes-confusion-is-a-good-thing 

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Romans 8:38-39

July 2018ClockClipArtNoon

For the next several days there will be no Noontimes posts but I will continue to pray with you each day at noon and record thoughts in an old-fashioned paper journal to share later.  In place of receiving a daily post, you may want to explore ideas on the Connecting at Noontime page offered in the hope that you find a suggestion to feed the soul and strengthen your bond with and in Christ.

Our spiritual life is always about Call and Response God creates and calls us.  We listen, and then return God’s word.  This blog is one small way for us to listen, to seek, to discern, to come together, to puzzle through and to respond in full voice to God’s mysterious and beautiful invitation to life in the Spirit.  It is our daily visit with God that nourishes and sustains us.  It is our persistent connecting with the one who created us that reminds us of who and why we are.  It is our constant hope and our fervent prayer that buoy us up when the road is difficult.  And it is Christ’s love for each of us that keeps us on The Narrow Way.  Thank you for taking part in our Noontimes journey.  We are creatures meant to travel together and, like Paul writing to the Romans, I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus the Lord. 

sundial-3New posts will return later this month.  In the meantime, may you each know and experience Christ’s peace.  May you seek and discover God’s Wisdom.  And may you be fortified in the Love and Counsel of the Spirit.  I hold each of you in prayer as always.  S

 

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2 Samuel 23: Last Words


2 Samuel 23Last Words

Saturday, July 21, 2018

A favorite written on June 18 and posted today . . .

We have no way of knowing the impact of our words on others.  We might guess.  We may even have the good fortune of receiving thanks from someone for words we may have offered during a crisis.  Or we may have the misfortune of discovering that our words were unkind or even damaging.  In all of these circumstances, we do well to remember that words may hurt or heal.  Words represent ideas and actions.  Words are sometimes our only vehicle for communication.  What then might we want to offer as last words to those with whom we struggle?  What do we offer to those we love?

I remember the last conversations I had with each of my parents.  They were completely typical.  Words of love and comfort going back and forth over the phone wires between Mother and me.  Each of us giving.  Each of us receiving.  Words of encouragement and life philosophy with Dad, even though he floated in and out of consciousness.  Each of us giving.  Each of us receiving.  There was no need to iron out wrinkles or un-ruffle feathers.  My parents and I were always open with one another.  Hidden agendas and anxieties were not allowed to fog our relationship.  The gift of honesty and truth is a settled heart.

I also remember my last conversation with my oldest brother and sister, both now deceased.  My brother knew his end was near as he died a protracted and painful death from cancer.  He and I joked and laughed as much as his condition would allow.  We both knew that each exchange held the potential for being the last yet we did not let this clutter our thinking.  We both acted on the belief that death is a mere transition and not an end.  The twelve-year difference in our ages was bridged by our love of family and commonly held values.

My sister died a sudden death and so our last words were ordinary.  We spoke about when we would see one another again and what we would be doing; yet there was a distance in her eyes.  Perhaps she already knew that her exodus was near.  Perhaps she held something too close to yet share.  I do not know but I also do not worry.  All will be revealed in God’s time.  I followed her across the lawn in the gathering dark as we walked to her car.  “Don’t walk all this way with me,” she smiled, “Go back to the campfire.  We all had a great time tonight.  Thanks for having the party.  See you soon”.  They were pleasant last words, normal and content, holding nothing deceitful, nothing dishonest.  We had celebrated the birthdays of her two oldest children.  She was satisfied.

We were all taught to live by a double axiom.  It was a happy combination of Dad’s “Hold nothing back” philosophy tempered by Mother’s “It will keep” viewpoint that unprepared thoughts were best held until processed and delivered at a better time.  It seemed like walking a tightrope to us five extroverted children as we grew.  Now I know that it reflected the working relationship my parents had forged through sixty years of living together.  Hide nothing – but say what you have to say with kindness.  We never know what words may be our last.

Being king and a man raised up, David knows that his last words will be recorded.   We do not have that luxury or – as some will think – that burden.  But when we think on this we realize that we utter last words constantly.  Friendships fade while others blossom.  Colleagues retire or go to other work with honest promises made and meant to be kept; new workmates join us.  Circumstances constantly change.  Someone is always moving on.  Yet our words remain forever, reverberating in the minds of others.   They capture memories accurately or wrongly.  They convey meaning poorly or well.  They accompany our actions and as such they are our legacy.

As we move through the last days of spring and step into summer, let us take a moment in time to pause and consider the weight of our words and what they might say to us and others about what we hold dear . . . and what message we want to leave behind for an eternity.


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 30, 2011.

Image from: http://www.thecancerhelpblog.com/tag/poems/ 

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Matthew 2:1-12: Leaving by Another Road
Friday, July 20, 2018

Written on June 7 and posted as a favorite today . . .

I love this portion of the Christmas story. The wise men are so wise that they are able to read Herod’s secret intent. Nothing can be hidden from the wise because they are so connected to the creator that they appear to have special insight. What they really have is patience, serenity, and a finely tuned ear for God’s word. And so the magi left for their own country by another road.

I am thinking about the number of times I have averted disaster because that calm, strong voice within indicated that I was to stay put. We notice that an attitude of patience and a willingness to obey always accompanies the wise. The wise are not brash or excitable. They do not speak harshly, nor are they silenced. Like the Persistent Widow, they know when to persevere in speaking God’s word. And like the Three Magi, they know when to stand down and melt away into God’s protecting presence.

The wise know when to stand and witness . . . and when to leave quietly by another road.


Read the parable of The Persistent Widow in Luke 18:1-8.

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 29, 2011.

Image from: http://lifeasilookatit.blogspot.com/2011/03/road-not-taken.html

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2 Kings 6Trusting the Lord

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A favorite written on January 25 and posted today . . .

Why should I trust in the Lord any longer?

There are so many times we hear these words from the lips of one who is deep in grief.  There are many times when we think or say these words ourselves.  The answer to the ageless questions is simple:  God does not create calamity and chaos; rather, God calls us to peace and unity.  It is up to us to respond, and to take all our problems to God, both the small and the large.

The scene depicted here today is both beautiful and dreadful; a miracle is juxtaposed with severe famine.  Elisha finds himself in danger because he accurately predicted all that takes place.  The irony and inversion we see here echo in our own lives: good things happen in the midst of great suffering, faithful servants are vindicated after intense persecution, hope outlives desperation.  Today’s accounting might be an older version of our own lives.

Why should we trust the Lord any longer?

We have reaped mercy when we thought there was no compassion.

We have known peace at a time when we thought there was only turmoil.

We experience joy just when we believe all is lost.

Why should we trust the Lord any longer?

There is no God who saves as the Living God saves.

There is no God who redeems as Christ Jesus redeems.

There is no God who loves as the Spirit loves.

And so we pray . . .

Ever present and all-knowing God, you wait patiently and allow us to wander from you, yet you always call us home.  You forgive our anger and calm our fear.  You remind us that you are with us always, even in the midst of horror.  You allow us and even encourage us to grow in you.  Why do we trust you, Lord?  Because there is no place else to go where we are so well protected, so well refreshed, or so well loved.  We thank you, God, for abiding with us always.  We thank you, God, for bring us your peace.  Amen. 


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 28, 2011.

Image from: http://perkettprsuasion.com/2011/04/07/define-trust-not-so-easy-is-it/ 

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Numbers 5:22-27The Departure Blessing

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Written on February 27 and posted today as a favorite . . .

“The placement of this benediction seems unusual; it may be another item that prepares the people for the journey through the wilderness.  This is the blessing for the time of departure, and [said] daily throughout their journey.  Each line, with God as subject, is progressively longer (three, five, seven Hebrew words); besides the name YHWH, twelve Hebrew words signify the twelve tribes.  The benediction in some form was used in ancient Israel, especially at the conclusion of worship . . . Putting the name of God on the people may have been understood literally, given the inscription on two cigarette-sized silver plaques found near Jerusalem, dating from the seventh-sixth centuries BCE . . . One probably should not see a climatic arrangement in the clauses; so, for example, blessing would include peace. Perhaps the second verb in each case defines the first more specifically, but together the six verbs cove God’s benevolent activity from various angles and state God’s gracious will for the people.

“Blessing has a wide ranging meaning, touching every sphere of life.  It testifies most basically to the work of God the Creator, both within the community of faith and without.  No conditions are attached.  It signifies any divine gift that serves the life, health, and well-being of individuals and communities.  Keeping is a specific blessing to those with concerns for safety, focusing on God’s protection from all forms of evil (Ps. 121:7-8), pertinent for wilderness wandering”.  (Barton, and Muddiman 116)

We are all wandering through the wilderness, departing each morning for the many destinations of the day, and returning to home each evening to rest before the cycle begins anew.  Each of the days is a testimony to the trust we place in God, the hope we place in Christ, and the comfort we take from the Spirit.  We maneuver our daily obstacles – some small and some gigantic – hoping for sustenance and safety, keeping faith that it is God who guides us rather than some self-serving whim, and witnessing to the message of liberation by loving our enemies into goodness.  I am thinking that I will print this small prayer and put it on the back of my front door above the handle I touch each day to exit.  I need these words as I step into the wilderness each day; I want to put the name of God on my children and their children as they also step into the wilderness.  I also want these words to bless and transform those who do me harm as I pray for the softening of their hearts and the unbending of their stiff necks.  I want all tribes to come together as the twelve tribes of Jacob have done to help one another in their journey through strange and hostile land to the land of peace and security.  This is the departure we can best wish for one another as we step over our thresholds each day to embark on a new and exciting journey filled with pain and promise.  This is the blessing that can touch us as we leave each morning, can keep us in God’s care throughout the day, and can bring us back home to God each evening. This is a pray that blesses us with the name of God and brings us peace.

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall address the Israelites.

Say to them:

The Lord bless you and keep you!

The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!

So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them!”


Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 116. Print.

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 27, 2011.

Images from: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/learning-to-say-goodbye.

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Exodus 17In Our Midst

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fear of abandonment is a horror that grips many and as a result lovers jilt one another so as not to be left by the other, parents abuse their children so as to not be disappointed, colleagues betray one another in order to keep a job, supervisors coerce workers in order to maintain complete control, friends disappear from relationships rather than work through conflict.  We can imagine how the kingdom might bloom if we were to fully comprehend one single fact . . . we are never alone . . . God is with us always and so there is no need to allow the terror of rejection to govern us.

Christ brings us a message of inversion, as we have said in many NoontimesHe tells us that what is up in our physical world is actually down in his.  The poor and the humble inherit, those who mourn rejoice, the hungry and thirsty are sated, and those who suffer persecution because of this belief reign.  When any of my siblings or I complained of an injustice – perceived or real – my mother would remind us easily and with a smile: The first will be last . . . the master is the servant. 

So if we are to live as if we believe in this first is last kingdom-building, we perceive abandonment as its inverted companion . . . union.  Christ is with us to remind us that the jilted are his special loves, the lost children his particular darlings, and the oppressed his best and closest friends.  In today’s Noontime, God shows the Hebrew people how much they are loved.  God tells them that they are not alone.  God reminds them that they are unique and chosen loved ones . . . yet they do not understand.  Across the millennia we hear their cry, see their pain, and we ask as the Hebrews did: Why do we suffer?  Why do things like this happen?  How are we to go on?  We are still God’s stiff-necked people.

Water springing from a rock, manna and quail in the desert: God knows that there are hidden gifts in hard, dry places;  God knows that manna gathers itself like dew in the desert morning;  God knows that great flocks of quail migrate over the wilderness and come to ground to rest; yet we persist in disbelief.  We continue to ask as the Hebrews ask: Is the Lord in our midst or not?   

In verses 8 through 13 we watch Joshua defeat the army of Amalek as long as Moses keeps his hands raised.  This story fascinated me as a child and I spent days lurking behind my brothers and sisters willing them to do things I wanted when I raised my hands to heaven.  God in great wisdom did not answer those requests . . . but God has answered many more as God accompanies me on my journey.

After the defeat of the Amalekites, the Lord says to Moses: Write this down in a document as something to be remembered, and recite it in the ears of Joshua.  In Old Testament language, the Lord tells the people that God will always be among them to defend them; God will not allow them to be wiped out.  God tells them that they are not alone, and that God will bring goodness out of evil . . . always.

We are never alone.  We are constantly loved.  We are rescued, comforted, healed and held . . . always and without fail.  There are no circumstances and no people we need ever fear.  The parched desert and the brutality of the Amalekites in our lives need not send us into panic because God is in our midst.

And so we too, can write this down . . . We have nothing to fear because the Lord will war against our enemies . . . throughout the centuries. 


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 26, 2011. 

Image from: http://gambolinman.blogspot.com/2007/10/southwest-usa-precious-water-abounds-in.html 

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